Archive for the ‘Thomas Kidd’ Category

Celebrate the life of Ray Galawan

July 24, 2018

We mourn the passing of our revered Ray Galawan.

A beloved Richmond farmer and the founding farmer of Richmond FarmWatch, Ray was dedicated to farmland conservation.

Please honour Ray Galawan by reading about him here—and by carrying on his generous dedication.

Ray lived all of his life in Richmond on his farm on No. 4 Road. He was a fourth generation farmer, and he was proud to be the great grandson of Thomas Kidd, settler farmer, poet and great Richmond citizen.

Ray helped Bob Featherstone, his friend since elementary school, to farm strawberries on Ray’s farmland. After retiring from a career as a machinist, and having always kept his hand in farming, Ray became more involved on the farm and became Bob’s right-hand man in his vegetable and berry fields.

Ray also fished along with lifelong fisherman friend Gus Jacobson and Gus’s son Russ, and in recent years Ray was an important part of the Finn Slough community.

Ray was always helping with repairs to boats, wharves and buildings, cleaning the slough and chopping wood for friends and neighbours.

He lent his mechanical expertise and wide array of skills generously, doing tractor work and mechanical repairs for many, many farmers and fishers in the community over the years.

Ray Galawan was dedicated to protecting a farming way of life in Richmond.

He founded Richmond FarmWatch in 2013 when he discovered dumping on a Finn Road farm.

Ray and FarmWatch approached city officials and—by tractor—led a convoy to City Hall and then to Premier Christy Clark’s office in West Point Grey.

Along with Bob Featherstone, Ray also led a months-long “watch” in a hut at the gate of the farm where waste was being dumped. They got support from the neighbourhood, and many people joined the anti-dumping cause.

The success of Ray and FarmWatch came with an Agricultural Land Commission stop-work order and the cessation of dumping on the farmland.

The City of Richmond then strengthened its soil bylaw.


In late 2017, remediation of the site took place as the soil was screened of demolition-waste fill.

Today the farm fields are planted in crops, as they were for a century.


Celebration of life for Ray Galawan:
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at the Celebration Hall at Mountain View Cemetary at 11:30 a.m. It is near 41st & Fraser in Vancouver and accessed from 39th or St George Street. (Click thumbnail map to enlarge.)

But celebrate especially by reading about Ray and his great granddad Thomas Kidd and carrying on what they stood for.


This article, in loving memory of Ray Galawan, a great Richmond citizen, has been adapted from a Richmond FarmWatch newsletter. Text by Kimi Hendess with support from other Richmond FarmWatch members. Photos by Mik Turje, Chung Chow, Sabrina Henry, Teresa Murphy, Steve Bridger, Erika Koenig-Workman and others.

Update: Some people called Ray “Perfect Ray” because he never half-did anything. The Celebration of Life was in keeping with that. It was a wonderful, thoughtful, bittersweet occasion, thanks to the family, celebrant and friends, with around two hundred taking part. Rest in Peace, Ray.


“Child of the Fraser River and the sea”

February 17, 2016

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, 1846-1930One way to respect our Garden City legacy is through a settler leader who strove to make things better for those to follow. That’s farmer poet Thomas Kidd. In today’s terms, he was also a Richmond MLA, mayor, councillor, school trustee and good neighbour. We learn from him through his History of Lulu Island and poetry.

Thomas Kidd was born in Ireland in 1846. He arrived here in 1874 after living in New Zealand and California. Lulu Island, he found, was the fairest of all.

In his ode to Lulu Island, Kidd speaks to her as “Child of the Fraser River and the sea.”

"Lulu Island" first stanza

Where-is-RichmondThe name captures the nature of Lulu and her smaller siblings, the 17-island Garden City.

In that aspect of who we are, we exist through the interplay of the tidal sea and the flowing river bearing silt and seed. Always, we depend on their relationship.

Kidd, who built sturdy skiffs from local cedar to row from place to place, knew the Garden City’s life-giving estuary well. These days, it’s at risk, coveted for an outsize port.

In B.C. Ministry of Environment words, “Estuaries, formed where rivers enter the ocean and fresh water mixes with the saltwater environment, are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.” Our estuary is vital for the Fraser, the greatest salmon river. Fortunately, Kidd’s respect for nature’s legacy is not dead.

Otto and Sandra 2015.pages

It lives on in people like Sandra Bourque and Otto Langer, a couple who met while doing master’s degrees in zoology in Alberta. They’ve championed the estuary and its child since arriving in Metro Vancouver in 1969 and making Richmond home in ’72. They care about impact, not fame, but you deserve to know about them.

Otto got results as a federal biologist and manager for 32 years and then with the David Suzuki Foundation. After retiring a decade ago, he remained immersed in conservation of the Fraser, sharing his expertise. Otto currently chairs VAPOR, standing up for the estuary.

Sandra was an ecological voice on school board for 18 years. Always, she’s a doer who gets things done.

Garry PointAn example: In 1978, Sandra and others went to court to stop a residential development on Garry Point. To help pay court costs, Sandra and Otto took out a loan with their home as collateral. They lost, appealed and won. Public support grew, and we all got Garry Point Park.

This New Year’s, Otto had a massive heart attack. After multi-bypass surgery, his heart stopped six more times in six days, but he’s on the mend.

Poetic justice in a note from Otto: “While Sandra worked to save Terra Nova farmland and Gary Point, I attended to our first child. That child became a cardiac nurse. Lately she helped save my life.”


Please scroll down for three more articles with the inspiring environmental story of Sandra Bourque and Otto Lang and the Garden City, Richmond, B.C.

In the meantime, you can read my guide to “Lulu Island.” Or read related articles and Thomas Kidd’s poems in the Thomas Kidd section of this blog.

This article also appears as a column in the Richmond News of Feb. 17, 2015.

Reviving the spirit of Kidd’s “Lulu Island”

February 17, 2014

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, 1846-1930“Child of the Fraser River and the sea,” says Thomas Kidd with loving respect for Lulu Island.

It was 140 years ago, February 1874, when Kidd first came and saw this child of nature. After a decade of roaming from Ireland’s County Down, where he grew up, to New Zealand to California, he settled here in the future Richmond.

With his older buddy Walter Lee, Thomas Kidd was a community builder from the start. Later, he was a school trustee, councillor and mayor and the first Richmond MLA. He did it all with a farmer’s sense and a poet’s vision, which meld in the ode to Lulu Island.

Why heed him at this time? This Sunday is—or should be—Kidd Day.

Thomas Kidd was born 168 years ago on February 23. With 168 hours in a week, we could even extend Kidd Day to Kidd Week (a festive hour per year).

At this time last year, my Kidd Day article was an “open letter to Thomas Kidd” with his lyrical “The Harvest’s Done.” That empathic poem rejoices with the farm animals. Kidd did things well and shared the joy that brought.

This year let’s enjoy “Lulu Island,” ours from Thomas Kidd. As true odes often do, it speaks to its subject in words of praise.

(Note: If you click on  “Lulu Island,” it will open in a new window or at least a new tab. That may make it easier to go back and forth between the poem and this article.)

The first stanza leads up to a big choice made simple, the decision to make Lulu Island home. Except for place names, each word in it is just one syllable, a single sound unit. It’s like 1, 2, 3: look, care, act.

pink roses, probably like the roses Thomas Kidd wrote aboutThe two middle stanzas are clusters of fond thoughts, like pausing to take in the wild roses. The memories are idyllic feelings, not verbal ideas.

The last stanza cherishes the natural wonders and invokes protection. The mountains that surround are inspiring scenery, a jewelry setting of great value and the powerful kind of guardian that Lulu Island deserves.

Odes used to be sung and danced, but it’s fine to just speak this one with feeling. Before we go on, can you take two minutes to do that twice? Reading aloud, feel “Lulu Island,” first as Thomas Kidd did a century ago and then as you do now.

You feel the images but also the rhythm and rhyme and perhaps the whole form. Thomas Kidd was adept in the craft of poetry, and you’ll feel more as you notice more. To help you progress quickly, I’ve prepared a guide, “Experiencing Thomas Kidd’s ‘Lulu Island’.”

This article is for all levels, and one can even treat it as an intro to poetry analysis.

Ray Galawan at Finn Road, Richmond, BCThomas Kidd passed on at 84 in 1930. It’s 84 years later now, and his great-grandson, Ray Galawan, carries on in his footsteps. Ray and FarmWatch are at Day 400 in the vigil on Finn Road to stop the dumping on ALR farmland.

This past year, despite our citizens’ informed and tireless action, Richmond’s powers-that-be kept squandering our natural legacy. More than ever, we need the values that Thomas Kidd lived and phrased so well, the spirit of “Lulu Island.”

The Garden City’s flower by nature?

January 27, 2014

In his writings, Richmond pioneer Thomas Kidd kept mentioning the wild roses. For instance, he describes them like this in his ode to Lulu Island:

With wild rose bordering all, whose spring display
Crowns every bush and festoon-links the trees
And fills with fragrance sweet our springtime breeze:
A beauty that no words can e’er portray.

I wish he’d found a few more words for the roses, but Coun. Harold Steves has an idea what kind they were. When I asked Harold about it, he suggested Nootka rose or swamp rose. In that case, I’d think Nootka rose, which can grow tall. Maybe some of our rose experts and heritage experts can get together to be sure. For now, here’s what Nootka roses look like.

Nootka roses

Some people have advocated botanical gardens on the Garden City Lands, and that seems appropriate for the Garden City and for the role of our central park as a garden for City Centre residents. The idea leads to visions of towering Nootka roses all around the lands.

What’s more, if any city deserves its own official city flower, it is the Garden City. If the Nootka rose is indeed the flower that grew around Lulu Island in such a natural, profuse and breathtaking way, it has pretty much chosen itself as our flower.

Thomas Kidd’s reflective “My Life”

March 6, 2013

In his philosophical sonnet “My Life,” Richmond pioneer Thomas Kidd reflects on his place in the cosmic ecosystem. What is most important to him in the way his consciousness may carry on after Death stops his vital force? He answers with his typical sincerity, sharing what he sees as the most important enduring quality.

My Life
by Thomas Kidd, 1846–1930

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930Great Cause of all, from whom I have my life,
The conscious life to wonder at its source
And wonder why the care and pain and strife
With hope and love are woven in its course
And why Death comes to stop that vital force,
These are Thy mysteries that man may not know.
Unasked I am within this universe,
A conscious part to see life come and go,
To know its pleasures and to feel its pains,
A slave to circumstance, though feeling free.
If, after death, our consciousness remains
With memories of this life, I hope ’twill be
One of forgiveness—I ask no greater heaven
Than power to Forgive and be Forgiven.

This article is part of a Thomas Kidd series on the Richmond’s Garden City Conservation blog. The core article isAn open letter to Thomas Kidd (1846–1930).”

Thomas Kidd’s ode to Lulu Island

March 6, 2013

Lulu Island settler Thomas Kidd had a great love for Richmond, somewhat like an adoptive parent with respectfully affectionate love for a daughter (although the poem acknowledges that Lulu is actually the child of  the Fraser River coming together with the sea).  For today’s citizens and friends of Richmond, the poem provides an insight into a precious land, crafted by Nature, treated gently by First Nations people, and adopted by settlers as the unspoiled child/gem that Thomas Kidd appreciates.

I have done some poetic analysis of “Lulu Island” and will share it with you by way of a link below the poem. For now, I encourage you to experience the poem aloud by reading it aloud.

Lulu Island
by Thomas Kidd, 1846–1930

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930Child of the Fraser River and the sea,
Fair Lulu Island where I built my home,
Though I had seen fair lands ere I saw thee,
I came and saw and said “No more I’ll roam.”

Thine open lands inviting to the plough,
Thy clumps of woods where spruce and cedar vie
For Beauty’s prize in height and symmetry,
And many kinds of the deciduous bough.

With wild rose bordering all, whose spring display
Crowns every bush and festoon-links the trees
And fills with fragrance sweet our springtime breeze:
A beauty that no words can e’er portray.

And what a setting, Little Gem, is thine!
Olympian Gods could never such design;
A border of great mountains guard thee round
With, for a clasp, Mount Baker, crystal-crowned.

Consider reading my thorough response, “Experiencing Thomas Kidd’s ‘Lulu Island‘.” It tries not to assume prior knowledge of poetry but does assume alert learners.

This article is one in a series. The core article in the series is “An open letter to Thomas Kidd (1846–1930).”

Happy birthday, Gertie! (c. 1914)

March 5, 2013

I’m including loving little poem from a father to his youngest daughter entering her teens because the dad was Richmond pioneer Thomas Kidd, who is important for Garden City conservation because of the example he set and the legacy he left. The core article in this series is “An open letter to Thomas Kidd (1846–1930).”

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930To Gertie on your 13th birthday

Greetings my girl, this morn that marks for thee
Entrance upon thy teens, those precious years
Replete with all bright visions hope can see
Through youthful eyes without a thought of tears.
I trust they’ll be so spent their memory will be
Endowed with all the bliss that now to hope appears.

Note: The poem is an acrostic, and the first letters of the six lines spell GERTIE, which is evidently what Thomas Kidd called his youngest daughter Gertrude.

A further note about the poetry:
The thoughtfulness of the birthday wish is reinforced by the care with the poetic craft, which is flawless. It would be an ideal poem for anyone introducing learners to rhyme (ababab), rhythm (mainly iambic pentameter but with appropriate trochees beginning the initial two lines and with alexandrines, iambic hexameter, as the concluding two lines), and word choice. (Besides the choice for meaning, that includes repetition of sounds and the key word “hope” in effective ways and also appropriate use of monosyllabic words.) Of course, what matters is not just those individual bits of poetic craftsmanship but especially the way they come together,  explicit in the acrostic technique but implicit—and felt—in the harmony of the poem.

The Harvest’s Done

March 1, 2013

Note: This poem is related to “An open letter to Thomas Kidd,” which appears below it.

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930The Harvest’s Done
by Thomas Kidd, 1846–1930

The harvest’s done, and on our farm today
A holiday is held—in wildest play,
The young stock madly run from field to field,
Careless to know what better food they yield.
The larger freedom seems their case for glee,
As all things animate seek to be free.
With tails erect they run till breath gives out,
As that returns, lock horns in friendly bout;
Then off again to make another run
Till all the farm is covered in their fun.

The sober cows, more anxious to find
What careless harvesters have left behind,
Which, with fresh grass along the fence’s side
A breakfast gives, with which they’re satisfied,
Then lay them down that breakfast to rechew—
A pleasure that poor mankind never knew.

The pigs, our worst of prisoners, are out
And in the stubble ploughs each eager snout,
Last winter’s deadened rings almost forgot,
Thus, back to nature, seem a happy lot.
The little ones keep close to mother’s side,
Not knowing yet all nature can provide.
Their tender snouts they soon learn to employ,
And whirling tails express their new-found joy.

Yes, all seem happy on the farm today
Except my faithful dog, whose eyes convey
A sense of injured pride, because restrained
From keeping order, by him well maintained.
The sun, with shrinking arch, brings shorter days
And cooler air, now clear from summer’s haze.

Summer’s great ripening work is done once more,
Leaving us rich in all we need to store,
And autumn is at work with care to save
The seed and germ that spring and summer gave,
That, winter past, will to those seasons give
The power to reproduce that all may live,
And let us hope, for us, may kindly run
Another year to sing “The harvest’s done.”

An open letter to Thomas Kidd (1846–1930)

March 1, 2013

Note: This open letter to Richmond pioneer Thomas Kidd (1846–1930) is the final version. The open letter appeared as a column in today’s Richmond Review, which happened to publish a draft sent to show the concept. The letter refers to Thomas Kidd poems, especially “The Harvest’s Done,” and some appear before and after the letter in this blog.

Happy birthweek*, Thomas Kidd!

As you begin your 168th year, rest assured that your life of doing things well is still doing good. We sense it now in farmers like Ray Galawan, your great-grandson, and in all who value the best of our past as a legacy to enjoy, conserve and share.

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930

Thomas, I’m sharing this as an open letter in gratitude. Forgive me for using prose, though I marvel at your letters in poetry. You must have become a lifelong learner, since you were so young when you left your Irish schooling for adventures in New Zealand and California until you got here, turning 28, in 1874. Maybe the enclosed photo of you as a young man will take you back in time.

You sure had fun writing “The Harvest’s Done.” It’s cleverly composed, but it’s your empathy with the farm animals that wins me.

It’s also your grateful respect for nature. Take cheer that we’ll celebrate “The power to reproduce that all may live” on March 2nd at Seedy Saturday at Terra Nova. And later that day there’s a 2 p.m. eco-tour of the Garden City Lands, 136 acres of “PARC”—parkland for agriculture, recreation and conservation—on the western tip of the Lulu Island Bog.

As a young farmer here, you took on more Lulu Island acreage than the Garden City Lands PARC and farmed it organically well. With your friend Walter Lee, you let your first cabin be a gathering place, and fellow farmers could count on your good advice.  Our PARC should have that spirit, plus more you’ve described in your History of Lulu Island.

Our PARC is a single farming unit in BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and the dyke it requires will carry on the tradition Hugh McRoberts began with his dyke around his fields and orchards.  The PARC dyke can also facilitate fresh-water security, more crucial in view of your accounts of failed drilling for artesian water wells.

By the way, Manoah and Martha Steves’ great-grandkid Harold got the ALR started. It’s a big success, and I’d love to fill you in on it someday.

We all want the Garden City Lands PARC to be a joyous place like your farm in “The Harvest’s Done.” Your history describes how “wild roses grew in great profusion and to a great height, garlanding the bushes and festooning the trees,” and we have citizens who could bring that back on the lands. Wow!

In “Lulu Island,” your ode to Lulu, “Child of the Fraser River and the sea,” the mountains around her bring out her beauty. You begin your final praise with “And what a setting, Little Gem, is thine” and end with “Mount Baker, crystal crowned.” Thomas, it pains me to tell you that natural viewscapes from our city centre are gravely threatened by Richmond power wielders with no sense of beauty or wonder.

Let’s get back to happy memories, like young Letitia wedding you. In your birthday poem to your daughter and your poem-letter to your son when a storm kept you in Victoria, we see you as a devoted family man. Your wise and caring outlook has endured, and we see it now in your great-great-grandson Randy Galawan. He’s Ray’s young-adult son, an engaging friend of nature.

In today’s terms, you were a Richmond mayor, councillor and school trustee and a two-term MLA in the BC legislature. You were a statesman, but your satire in verse (“A Grand Financial Debauch“) sliced the sham from the politician known as “The Speculators’ Hope.”  We need that spirit.

Thomas, you end your “My Life” sonnet like this: “I ask no greater heaven/ Than power to Forgive and be Forgiven.”  We live in hope that Lulu’s legacy will become so honoured by those who trample it that you can forgive them.

Bye for now,
Jim Wright,
President, Garden City Conservation Society

*Thomas Kidd was born on Monday, February 23, 1846 in County Down, Ireland (in what is now Northern Ireland).

Thomas Kidd’s ode to Lulu Island is available with poetic analysis inExperiencing Thomas Kidd’s ‘Lulu Island‘,” a four-page PDF in landscape format with the poem always available for reference on one side of the page. 

Have a look at the whole Thomas Kidd series to get to know Richmond’s remarkable Renaissance Man farmer.

Dear Boy—Thomas Kidd’s letter-poem to Joseph

March 1, 2013

Richmond pioneer Thomas Kidd (1846–1930) wrote this poem as a letter to his son,  evidently from the provincial capital, Victoria, during the 1894–1902 period when Thomas was a member of the provincial legislature (MLA, in today’s terms).

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, BC, 1846-1930Dear Boy, ‘twas because the wicked wind blew
I did not get home to see Mother and you.
Last Thursday it blew with such terrible force
It woke up the earthquake to join in its course;
And ‘twas hard, here at times, to exactly say
Whether earthquake or wind was the power at play.
As if in ague, the whole city quivered,
The lighter things danced, and the heavy ones shivered.
The houses all shook from rooftop to ground,
And Eolian harps were the wires all round,
And the acts of the wind, like the acts that we pass,
Left things rather mixed for the assessor to class,
For moveable now are some things that were fixed,
So the real and personal are considerably mixed.
Hats flew and hair too—wigs of course I should say
Like Gilpin’s went off on a frolic that day.
Old Boreas for shame! to extend this to ladies
And why did you try to run off with some babies!
Such was Thursday’s storm—for sorrow or laughter,
And I thought such a wind would bring a calm after.
But alas, it did not, for when Friday night came,
Old Boreas came back and played his old game.
I sat up quite anxious until it was late
In hopes that towards midnight the wind would abate;
But the longer I sat the harder it blew
And kept me from going to the others and you.
But next Friday night I surely will go,
Being well, my dear boy, if the wind does not blow.

Along with Joseph, “the others” of the surviving children of Thomas and Letitia Kidd were Agnes, Margaret and Gertrude (“Gertie”). Another son and daughter died in infancy. Years after Thomas wrote this letter-poem, Joseph drowned as a young man.